National Geographic : 1919 Jan
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE Why should we favor international jus tice and then refuse to furnish the ma chinery by which that justice can be de clared and enforced? What risk do we run? It is said that we ought not to be called upon to enforce a judgment against a Balkan State, so far away. Doubtless, different zones of executive activity for the different great powers might be established for convenience. Thus, except in the case of a general riot or conflagration, our activity might be limited to the Western Hemisphere, while the European nations would take over central and eastern Europe and Asia. SAFEGUARDING MEMBER NATIONS FROM THE NECESSITY OF MAKING WAR With reference to the enforcement of .recommendations of compromise, the ex ecutive council should consider whether it is a case in which peace would be pro moted more by economic or military en forcement than merely by international public opinion. If, in such a case, it is thought that a majority of the executive council should not control the right to call for military execution of the compromise, such action might be limited to a unanimous decision of the executive council. This would prevent the imposition of the burden of war by the determination of the League members upon any nation without its consent. Or the enforcement of such a compromise, if determined on by a ma jority of the executive council, might be left to that majority. AN ANSWER TO SENATOR KNOX Senator Knox, in his criticism, seemed to anticipate that the United States was to be drawn into the war against its will by a majority vote of a convention of heterogeneous nations. No such result could follow from the organization of a League as indicated above. The assumption that the votes of Haiti, or San Salvador, or Uruguay could create a majority forcing the United States in a war against its inter est and will, under a practical League of Nations, is wholly gratuitous and un founded. It would be left to the vote of an executive council of the great powers, and even then the United States, under the modifications above suggested, could not be drawn into war against its will. NO CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISION VIOLATED The next objection is that the United States cannot through its treaty-making power bind itself to make war in any future contingency. The argument is based on the constitutional requirement that Congress shall declare and make war. I confess that I cannot see the slightest force in this contention. The treaty making power can bind the United States to make war. It has done so. The legis lative arm, the Congress of the United States, must Derform the promise or it cannot be performed. The promise to pay money is exactly analogous to a promise to make war. The treaty-making power binds the gov ernment to pay whatever sum it deems just and proper, as where the treaty making power bound this government to pay $20,000,000 to Spain for the Philip pines. That promise had to be performed by Congress, because under the Consti tution Congress is the only power to make the appropriation. PROMISES ALREADY MADE WHICH ENTAIL OBLIGATION TO MAKE WAR Congress may repudiate either obliga tion and dishonor the promise of the nation; but that does not invalidate the promise or render it unconstitutional any more than a man's letting his note go to protest renders the original obligation in valid. We have already made promises that may entail the obligation on us to make war. We have promised to guarantee the political and territorial integrity of Panama, as we have of Cuba. If any nation were to attempt to overthrow Panama or Cuba, or to take any part of the territory of either, we would be un der obligation to make war to resist this aggression. These obligations were entered into by the treaty-making power, but they are to be performed by Congress and to be per formed by Congress in a constitutional way-that is, by declaring and making war.